Saturday, May 04, 2013

Critique on some events in life of Veer Savarkar

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Following is an essay which formed a part of exchange with a dear friend in response to my previous "Narendra Modi is Savarkar Redux" post. Various issues which are typically raised while extending a critique on Savarkar are addressed in this post, as per my capability and knowledge. 

1. Regarding Savarkar's role in increasingly communal politics of 1937-1947 era.

India has faced two fold threats since her fall to central asian Muslims. One is against an open foreigner. And second against natives following foreign ideology OR carrying forward foreign interests. Turks and Pathans, Mughals and Pathans, British and Muslim League were the three iterations of these two antagonists of Dharma.

INC was focusing only on British. Muslim league which represented the antagonistic aspirations of political Islam (evident from all actions of Pathan lobby since 1500s), was the elephant in the room which everyone chose to ignore (many still do). And this elephant "Islam", was singularly focused on Hindus. Savarkar and Mahasabha was the only Indic voice which spoke in favor of Hindus. 

I do not know how to remain secular when Moplah riots are happening (similar to recent Assam riots) and 100,000 Hindus were killed. We can of course disagree but, wait until you see the buildup of 1947 like conditions in India. I assume you do not live here (I am sorry for this assumption, but it is important one since we are talking on purely aarthik issues, not dharmik or adhyatmik issues). If you visit many parts of country, you will witness a buildup. On ground, you will be surprised to see Hindus support the thoughts of Savarkar, even if they do not know his name. A very harsh Greeshma Ritu is coming. 1947 like scenario is slowly building up in India. You will hear similar voice from other regions of India (or may be same region), as years progress. 

Regarding Savarkar's role in elimination of caste-discrimination

Regarding Savarkar's efforts on eliminating Jaati discrimination and jaati pyramid, you need to read a lot. Savarkar consistently worked on it on grassroot level for more than 4 decades. Entire Ratnagiri district and parts of Konkan were completely free of untouchability (noted by Ambedkar himself) before Ambedkar burnt manusmriti. And all this when he was under arrest in Ratnagiri. This work continued until his death. He performed Upanayana on thousands of ex-untouchable children, organized sahabhojans, opened temples with dalit priests (properly trained), organized gatherings for women, gave scholarships to dalit students. It is not a red herring, but one of the essential aspects of Savarkar's life. 

Regarding Mahatma Gandhi Assassination

Regarding MKG, what killed MKG were his own Karma helped by nelson's eye of Brit-INC establishment towards his security. Savarkar was staunch critic of Gandhi since India House days (MKG was much senior to Savarkar then). Savarkar's Hindutva criticizes MKG's inaction garbed under dharmik terms of Satya and Ahimsa. And it does so in harsh manner. This is not the proof to attribute the guilt of MKG's murder (and planning) to Savarkar. MKG's murder was an operation of and by Godse et al. Godse was also RSS swayamsevak at a time. Apte was a recruiter for RAF. Savarkar had supported Hindu recruitment in army (and was derided by INC as recruit-veer). An ideology does not kill a person.  It is men who kill men. Ideology kills Ideology. So it is unfair to blame Hindutva for murder of Gandhi. 

Regarding Savarkar being "reactionary" and not "original" in his ideas, approach and actions

Finally, about Savarkar (and Hindutva) being reactionary, lacking in original ideas - Just because a voice is reactionary, does not belittle its importance.  One may shy away from his name because it has been made a hot potato, but that makes one a hypocrite. But fact of the matter is that Hindu Mahasabha  (or something similar) will rise again, if state of affairs continue. You are right that HMS like organizations are reactionary. Because dharma, in its nature, is accommodating. But there are levels of accommodation, we are prepared to accept. And when accommodation transforms into bootlicking or compromise, there will rise a reactionary voice (followed by a fist) which will at least try and bring senses to society.

Reactions are as strong and important as actions. Entire movement of Marathas and later Sikhs was reactionary throughout. "Eminent historians" have thrashed them for being "merely reactionary" and hence "lacking original ideas of governance", but that does not change the fact that India is still a Hindu majority because of that "reaction". Original ideas was not their job. Their job was to free India using whatever means available and dilapidated society ready to crumble. Same is the case with Vijaynagar (better manifestation, but equally reactionary). For implementing original idea, the previous damaging idea has to be undone. Until ground is leveled, every force (however well meaning and rich in original ideas) has to focus its energies on leveling. Savarkar's case (along with that of HMS) is similar. He had to attempt mobilizing a society which was being nicely and sequentially sedated, at short notice against a superior and well-entrenched enemy.


Unknown said...

/* He performed Upanayana on thousands of ex-untouchable children, */

Has any study been done whether these children, continue to wear the thread? What was the end result of all these efforts to break down 'caste barriers'?

Even today,its the traditional Brahmin that is trying to stick to his ancestors' vocation. Not these progeny of 'social justice' efforts.

Anonymous said...

Savarkar was original in his understanding of Indian History, but he was reactionary in his hindutva..

His attempts at making dalits as priests are self destructive, and was a reactionary thing..

Fearing enemy will destroy our properties, can we destroy it ourselves?

Untouchability is out of ritual purity that every jathi followed.. the brahmins if they are to follow their highest cleanliness, has to follow untouchability..

But savarkar saw temples as just hindu churches and NOT abode of god.. That's how ideology corrupts a man..

Still Savarkar should be reverred just for his ONE gigantic work.. his book about 1857 war of indian independance was the most powerful weapon for our revolutionaries..

काय चालूये.. said...

B. Nari ji,

Those who were performed upayanayana upon, many of them continued to wear the thread in their lives. I do not know whether their children also were performed thread ceremony upon.

Problem is post 1950s, the entire dalit-upliftment project was made to shift towards Ambedkar and his method of caste-discrimination eradication. This coupled with vote-bank politics, resulted in everything that is orthodox HIndu in origin was blamed as brahminical.

Such is the travesty that in MH, Savarkar today is considered as leader of brahmins. Especially by the dalit organizations and their handlers in INC and NCP.

There are many in district of Ratnagiri in Maharashtra, who even today have continued the changes (including thread ceremony) brought about by Savarkar, 80 years ago. Outside this district, the effects are less pronounced.

His systematic vilification post Mahatma Gandhi murder further diluted the effect.

काय चालूये.. said...

Senthil Raja ji,

First of all, being reactionary does not demean a thought or an idea. In that case, nothing except parabrahman is original. Everything is a reaction to something.

Secondly, performing Upanayana does not mean making priests. Upanayana, like vidyarambha, is a sanskara in Hindu life-style which initiates a pupil in realm of Brahmacharya and meditation.

Not every Brahmachari takes up priesthood in his grihastha life. I, for example, won't take up priesthood as my career. But, I won't stop performing sandhya-vandana, no matter which ever career I choose.

Upanayana is formal initiation in Brahmacharya ashrama. And Brahmachari and Sannyasi has no varna..

What makes you thing Savarkar saw Hindu temples as Churches? Temple is a public place (except for some family owned temples which are only for members of family), where everyone has right to see god and make sure that the god therein sees him (the concept of darshana).

A section of Hindus was not allowed to enter mandira and have audience with deity. IN spite of fulfilling all the cleanliness standards - Because they did not belong to the right caste. This is not dharmik at all.

Untouchability is not same as Yogic concept of Shaucha. IN Shaucha, yogi prefers that no-one OR nothing touches him for the period of his Upasana. Untouchability is treating a person like a subhuman species, denying him access to basic amenities like water (from common wells and lakes). It is the mentality which does not consider an individual worthy enough to pursue dharma, based solely on one characteristic (the jaati he is born in to), is the crux of untouchability.

Vyasa said...

/** For implementing original idea, the previous damaging idea has to be undone. Until ground is leveled, every force (however well meaning and rich in original ideas) has to focus its energies on leveling.**/

This way there will never be ground zero because previous damaging idea is replaced by counter damage ideas which are far from original ideas.If Counter damage ideas preserved populiarised original ideas along the way like Vijayaganar empire then we don't have to call it reactionary.But Amberdkar,Savarkar were all reactionary as they didn't defend original idea which later added to the existing problems

Vyasa said...

Actually your response to Senthil you is proof for the confusion that replaces original ideas due to reactionary ideas.
Who is speaking about priesthood here?You obviously don't know about guna,it's impact,importance,impact of sandhya vandana etc.
Only sanyas doesn't have varna.It is not true that Brahmachrya doesn't have varna.Varna is there once your are born as you have guna.
You should not force a kid good in Math to learn Hindi.Same with upanayana,vidyarambha.Kshatriya,Vysya,Sudra education is different from Brahmin education.As for saucha it is not just yogic,it is brhamcharya and Grihasta concept too.Even today some Brahmins(I don't mean priests)even corporate jobs ones follow some practices of saucha.K,V,S are not required to practice them as strictly as Brahmins have to.Untouchability is scientific, it is not human rights violation but preservation.Under foreign rule economic conditions deteriorated and attackers ,reactionaries all together dumped the blame on Sanata Dharma.

webasura said...

Dear Vyasa,

You do not know what you are talking about. Varna as per "guna-karma" is clearly expiated in commentaries. Guna is decided as per "shamO dama" - the characteristics of subconscious nervous reactiveness and conscious self-restraint of the individual. These are determined partly genetically and partly by culture, and they can be changed by meditative practice. It is observable to anyone with eyes in his head that people born from the same parents can have diametrically opposite characteristics of shamo-dama. Tying Guna purely to birth is nonsensical. Savarkar and Kal-Chiron are on target about this. The only valid criticism in this case is that Savarkar tried to counter one mass-implementation of caste-based varna with a counter-implementation at a MASS level; whereas real varna is decided at the INDIVIDUAL level. That's all.